There’s a dream keeps returning, like rain to the sea.
There’s a fire ever burning in the souls of the free.
There’s a lifetime of learning that it’s all been in jest.
And at the end of your journey, it’s like you never left.
~ Dave Mason
Those lyrics are great. They apply to a lot of things in life.
That includes me seeing the legendary Traffic singer/songwriter and guitarist Dave Mason recently, after last seeing him 10 years ago. He was once again at Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, New York, and I saw him with some old friends two weeks ago.
Besides being a legend, he’s a really good man.
He’s supporting Wounded Warriors and other projects, like Work Vessels for Veterans, which helps support veteran entrepreneurs trying to get their business dreams off the ground. I urge you all contribute to help the incredibly brave men and women in our armed forces who sacrifice so much and get so little in return.
We did our part that night by bidding up the price and winning a signed guitar that Dave Mason was auctioning, as he is doing at other shows.
Here’s a picture of Dave in the middle, me on the right, and one of my best friends, Dr. Mark Kot, the real Hamptons doctor (yeah, they made a TV show based on him) on the left.
But I digress. Although it’s for a good cause. We can never do enough for our troops!
There’s another dream that’s returning today. And it is one that many of you have been actively dreaming about.
Like rain to the sea, the fallout from the implosion of too-big-to-fail banks that poisoned our capital markets and economy may, God willing, help resurrect the Depression-era legislation that separated commercial banks from investment banks.
I’ve been calling for that for years now. And almost all of you are soldiering with me in that camp.
Well, it seems we may now have a new general to lead us.
Sandy Weill, the architect of TBTF behemoth Citicorp, and the former lieutenant general leading the charge to wipe out the last remnants of Glass-Steagall in 1999, just made an unbelievable about-face.
On CNBC on Wednesday, Weill made headlines when, as a guest host he said that while he was right in 1999, things have proven that he’s not right any more, and commercial banks and investment banks should be separated.
In no uncertain terms, he’s advocating the resurrection of Glass-Steagall. Hallelujah!
He’s not the first of the old guard that once pushed a future full of giant supermarket banks, also known as “universal” banks, to rethink where that’s gotten us.
John Reed, the former chairman and CEO of Citibank – before it was merged into Sandy Weill’s Travelers giant insurance conglomerate that owned Salomon Smith Barney to create Citicorp – spoke out in 2009. So did Phillip Purcell, the former chief executive of Morgan Stanley, and David Komansky, the former head honcho at Merrill Lynch. It seems that these former “bigger-is-better” banking legends are second-guessing their vision of a boundaryless future of banks without borders.
Our new general has singlehandedly changed the dialogue by bringing the past into focus and honestly calling out the deregulators to admit they were wrong, as he was.
That is leadership.
Who cares about the past? So what if he was at the forefront of the TBTF movement? He’s seen the error of his ways, and we all need to thank him for his honesty and for saying exactly what he said, which was that, “creativity, ingenuity and brainpower of the people (bankers) is much more important than size.”
With regard to what I believe is the greatest problem facing the U.S. right now, the public’s lack of confidence in our capital markets and banks, Weill said this: “By creating an environment where we can attract the kinds of people to be leaders, the system would create leadership again in American financial institutions,” and “they’d do a helluva lot better than the ones that just have big balance sheets; and that’s always been the case.”
Now, that’s a dream worth returning to.